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Secretary Steven Chu Visits Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

September 28, 2010 - 10:34am


Secretary Steven Chu Visits Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Yesterday, Secretary Chu had the opportunity to visit the Department’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) in New Jersey – a facility he said has been at the center of the intellectual birth and coming of age of plasma and fusion science.

Discussing our need for scientists to address our country’s energy issues, climate change and how nuclear energy — both fission and fusion — could be solutions to our energy challenges, the Secretary made two predictions, but first quoted Yogi Berra: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

According to Chu, driven by the laws of supply and demand, in the coming decades the price of oil will continue to rise and climate change and its risks will become so starkly apparent that we will live in a carbon constrained world. “Our profound dependency on oil is driving us to an increasingly challenging environment," he said, noting that the increase of CO2 on the atmosphere has the fingerprints of human activity on it. "We will be in new territory ...this is pretty serious business.”

Chu said that in order to achieve our energy and climate goals we must use energy more wisely and develop and deploy low-carbon technologies. "Science has shown that we are altering the destiny of the Earth. The full impact of what we have done already will not be known for 100-plus years. The full cost of future damages is not known." In order to reduce our impact, Chu said we need scientists to come to our country’s aid and perfect new technologies – like those being developed by the Energy Innovation Hubs.

The Secretary closed with a Native American saying about how we should care for our planet. "Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children."

After his remarks, Chu toured PPPL’s facilities and met with staff before heading to Philadelphia Navy Yard to highlight the Department’s recent $122 million award to establish an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing technologies to make buildings more energy-efficient. As part of the consortium, PPPL will receive $1.2 million over five years to lead the Hub's education and workforce development task.

You can find out more about the Energy Innovation Hubs at

Liz Meckes is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs